The media Industry is one that is often associated with glamour and fame. But behind the curtains, when the lights and cameras are off and the action is over, mothers in this profession go back to fighting ordinary life battles. Journalist Linda Alela opens up to Caroline Njoroge
Linda Alela (pictured) is one stoic lady. Her smile has a way of burying hardship and challenges to the far back end of things. She is a daughter, sister, aunt, wife and mother to people who are directly dependent on her, which means that she has to go an extra mile to sustain her livelihood so that she’s able to take care of them.
So far, she has worked for four media stations and as a news anchor, reporter and producer and is now at TV47. Through it all, she has learnt that there are sacrifices to be made even when walking this path that has for long been the envy of many young women. “The older I get, the more I appreciate women and the more I learn just how challenging it is to be a woman. You learn to take it all in one stride as you move along,” Linda says.
Since the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in Kenya, she has had less on her plate that she could term as free time. “I have watched special days pass by, I have had minimal time with loved ones, I have lost family and never had enough time to mourn,” says the news anchor.
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“I smile even when I am crying inside, I say it is OK even when it is not, I have to provide even when there is nothing in the basket. In a nutshell, I have to figure out life for me and for others. As I grow and experience life, I become more proud of my mama and, above all, of myself – of the woman I am becoming. I might not have all that there is but I am truly proud that I am a woman,” Linda adds.
“Motherhood has taught me to respect my mother more and to appreciate the sacrifices she made over the years for us. She is a true pillar of strength. It has taught me what it means to love unconditionally and to persevere continually. It has sharpened my wits more and taught me a greater measure of responsibility,” says Linda.
As a journalist who lives in the public eye, she rarely talks about the ghosts in the dark that she so often has to deal with behind the scene. Today, she shares her experiences, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic:
“The pandemic has come with some dark clouds – one major one being the numerous accounts of jobs lost and the anticipated cuts after the measures placed to control the pandemic are eased. I consider myself to be highly blessed to still have an office to report to. I can say that I am enjoying the call to journalism. Yes, I consider it a calling.
As the days go by, however, and responsibilities increase, my appreciation for my mother grows. Being a woman in this industry is not easy. Throwing motherhood and spousal responsibilities to that mix often times feels so overwhelming. I do not have a nanny (out of choice). I trust my husband but this is my own way of avoiding unnecessary battles as a married woman.
I often work late or report early and the changes that have come with this pandemic have, in some ways, meant that we have more on our plates, not that I’m complaining. Being married to someone who is in the media industry, I thought there would be a much higher level of tolerance and understanding, you know, because he would know from experience how inflexible work schedules in this industry can be. I was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my husband, but I have learned that a man’s needs are a man’s needs regardless of the industry. Sometimes, being in the same industry makes no difference. I have two amazing children -- my son and a nephew (one of my sisters passed away a few years back and I adopted her son). Learning to balance between being a career woman, and a good wife and mother, is an art and a science I am still endeavoring to get right. It’s not easy.
There have been nights when I cried myself to sunrise, darkness engulfed my tears and at 5 or 6 am, I was dressed up ready for the cameras, complete with a smile. Many look at this industry and see glamour, but it is a roller coaster of diverse emotions. It is a great privilege to be in this position but this privilege has its battles.
Some people will easily label a female TV anchor as loose. Others will genuinely seek one’s insight on important matters because they consider you to have a good head over your shoulders. Your family will more often than not look up to you, your spouse will expect you to make the required changes to fit the marital bill. With all this tugging at a woman, how can I not endeavour to be strong?
Along the way, I have learnt the importance of communication. Sometimes one has to handle breaking news or upcoming issues that had not necessarily been factored in the morning, meaning staying at work longer than expected. I have learned to perpetually communicate changes to my husband, something that I took for granted earlier on.